YouTube has long since been under scrutiny from record labels and the recording industry for allowing mostly free access to music and lyric videos. Lyor Cohen, the global head of music at YouTube, has shared that there is a strong push to try and get more users to pay for a new subscription service to quiet "noise" being made by the recording industry.
The new changes made have already undergone testing by several thousand Google employees and the results are abysmal to the user experience. Increasing ad counts are said to "frustrate and seduce" end users into paying up for a better experience. There will be exclusive content available to paying users such as playlists, videos, and behind the scenes tours with artists, but that is little consolation for intentionally damaging a free service.
Incoming changes are meant to directly target users that use YouTube as an alternative to Spotify, Pandora, or Apple Music. It is currently very easy to build up a playlist and listen for several hours without encountering too many advertisements, but that will soon change.
"You’re not going to be happy after you are jamming ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and you get an ad right after that."
Music industry professionals are currently looking at YouTube the same way that Spotify was treated before it experienced exceptional growth. There is a large user base just sitting around of which only a small portion currently pays for content through a subscription. Pressure is being put on to share more revenue, and YouTube is responding with the creation of a paid service that could bring in significant amounts of new cash flow.
As a 30-year veteran in the music industry before moving to YouTube, Lyor Cohen has managed to convince YouTube to sell out and "be good partners". He declares, "There’s a lot more people in our funnel that we can frustrate and seduce to become subscribers. Once we do that, trust me, all that noise will be gone and articles people write about that noise will be gone."
In 2017, ad revenue from music streaming services accounted for less than 10 percent of music industry revenue in the United States. Just how badly YouTube plans to intentionally annoy its own users with ads remains to be seen.
Would you be willing to pay for a YouTube music subscription service to avoid being bombarded with ads?
Update: A representative has reached out with the following statement.
Our top priority at YouTube is to deliver a great user experience and that includes ensuring users do not encounter excessive ad loads. We do not seek to specifically increase ad loads across YouTube. For a specific subset of users who use YouTube like a paid music service today - and would benefit most from additional features - we may show more ads or promotional prompts to upsell to our paid service.